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Archives for April 2012

Spice Up Your Book with a Recipe

When you set out to write your book, you have ideas, steps, encouragement and more that you want to share. The easier you make it for the reader to grasp your key points, the better. Try adding a recipe to spice up your book.

Almost any book can benefit from a recipe metaphor. All you need is a theme or objective, some ingredients and directions on how to mix them together. The beauty of recipes is that they are user friendly and we can understand them. Even a technical topic could benefit from being expressed as a recipe.

Your recipe could list general ingredients.

A book on happiness, for example, could list what researchers have discovered about the traits of happy people

  • gratitude
  • help others
  • believe in a higher power
  • practice being quiet and still from time to time
  • laugh
  • choose activities you enjoy
  • hang out with happy people
  • avoid toxic people

Your recipe could identify quantities of each ingredient.

A book on living a healthy life, for example, could list

  • 5 fruits and vegetables daily
  • 30 minutes of brisk exercise at least 4 times a week
  • 8 hours of sleep nightly
  • one ounce of water for every pound of weight

Your recipe can take on many forms. It’s important to remember that this is your recipe and therefore can be constructed whatever way you wish. Opinions vary on how much we need of anything, so you get to be the expert with your recipe.

You can construct your ingredients from the tips, steps and points you already share. Then be sure to discuss how those ingredients go together to yield the “dish” you are promoting.

Your recipe might be a metaphorical one or an actual kitchen-style one.

In Chapter 6 on Balancing Family and Work in my book, Color Your Life Happy: Create Success, Abundance and Inner Joy You Deserve, I stressed making family the highest priority.

In that section of the book I talked about our practice of cooking new recipes on Sunday afternoons when my children were growing up. One of those recipes became such a family favorite that to this day, decades later, every time I serve that recipe the guest always asks for the recipe. I had to include that recipe in my book, of course.

I won’t make you go over to buy the book in order to get that recipe. Over the years I’ve switched to ground turkey and fresh green chiles, but here is the original recipe as it appeared in the Los Angeles Times recipe section decades ago. Let me know how you like it.

California Zucchini Bake

1 pound lean ground beef
3 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
¼ cup sliced green onion with tops
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 (7 ounce) can green chiles, chopped
3 cups cooked rice
1 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded Jack cheese
1 large tomato, sliced
salt, pepper

Saute beef, zucchini, onion, salt, garlic powder and chili powder in a lightly greased skillet until meat is no longer pink and vegetables are tender crisp, Stir frequently. Add green chiles, rice , sour cream and 1 cup cheese. Turn into greased shallow 2 quart casserole. Arrange tomato slices on top, Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees 20 to 25 minutes

Do you want to talk about what recipe you can include in your book? I would love to be your partner in choosing a recipe that readers will find yummy. If you are ready to begin, pop me an email right now with “READY” in the subject line at flora@florabrown.com . Tell me about your book idea. Be sure to include your phone number and I’ll call you within 24 hours.

I’m going over to check for your email right now.

 

 

What is a Book Cover?

A book cover is the face of a story.

When Chip Kidd was hired at Alfred A. Knopf, he was charged with the task of creating book covers. He gave books a face.

In the video below, you will learn how a pro translates a book’s content and the author’s intent into graphic design genius.

I promise that you will get inspired ideas that will help you better understand the connection between  your book cover and your story.

Share with me in the comments what ideas came up for you.

 

Are you unsure about your cover? I would love to be your partner in choosing a cover that compels readers to open your book. If you are ready to begin, pop me an email right now with “READY” in the subject line at flora@florabrown.com . Be sure to include your phone number and I’ll call you within 24 hours.

I’m going over to check for your email right now.

Choosing Your Book Title: Are You Keeping Your Promise?

A recent ad from a local store featured a party cooler for sale. Although the cooler was pictured filled with ice and canned soda, printed in parentheses was “Sodas and ice not included.” While most of us would realize that the ice and soda were intended to show how the cooler looks when in use, without this disclaimer there are a few shoppers who could claim that the picture lead them to believe it was included.

Just as clearly stating what is being offering is critical to success in advertising, so is it important in your book title. Your book title is a billboard, a promise, an agreement to deliver certain content.

Here are some tips for choosing your title.

1. Create one sentence that sums up the contents of your book.

Within that sentence are the keywords that could be in your title.

2. While titles cannot be copyrighted, steer clear of emulating popular titles.

and and have already been done.

3. Settle on a working title while you’re writing your book.

The perfect title may not be apparent at the start. By the time you finish your book, however, the title will likely emerge.

4. Reflect the tone of your message in the title.

If you’re writing a how-to book, you don’t want your title to mislead your readers into thinking it’s a sizzling  romantic novel.
It may result in sales, but readers will be disappointed and unfulfilled.

5. Notice the nickname or short name you’ve given your book while you’re writing it.

That may be a great title. One of the actors from the sitcom, That 70’s Show, revealed that this was not the original title, but the nickname
they gave it during rehearsals. By the time it was ready for launch, the producers decided that the nickname was the right name for the show.

6. Listen to how you respond to questions about your book when you are speaking to groups or your accountability partner.

John Gray came up with “Men are from Mars, Women
are from Venus” in an effort to explain the differences in men and women during
at one of his live presentations. He knew he had found the right title for his book on relationships.

7. Go for a simple and clear title rather than fail at being clever.

  • The “how to” title is still the most popular because it appeals to our never-ending quest for doing things, taking action and making improvements.
  • “Murder at the  [location]” will still grab mystery lovers.
  • The [odd number] Ways to [do or accomplish something that we want] is irresistible with its promise of actionable steps.

8. Give your book a subtitle, if necessary for clarity.

 

One book that could have benefitted from a subtitle is “How to Avoid Huge Ships” by John W. Trimmer.

When Captain Trimmer got tired of running into small boats, he wrote this serious book directed at small boat owners/operators to help them avoid getting into the pathways of big boats which can not always see much less miss hitting them. Unfortunately, many of the 186 Amazon “reviewers” had a lot of fun with this book title.  With the price tag of $75, it’s not likely most of the reviewers actually bought the book, but they couldn’t resist aiming at that title.

Here are some of the reviews of Trimmer’s book that made me laugh out loud.

  • Read this book before going on vacation and I couldn’t find my cruise liner in the port. Vacation ruined.
  • Huge ships have been the bane of my life, so I was very excited when I bought this book. However, Captain Trimmer does not provide the helpful and insightful advice that I had hoped for and I did not feel that this book had any noticeable effect. If anything, I now encounter more huge ships than ever! Would not recommend.
  • After reading this book, I relized[sic] exactly what I was doing wrong everytime I was run over by bardges[sic] on the mighty Mississippi. I always played dead and hoped the boats would go away, like I was taught by a book I read, “How To Survive Bear Attacks.” I guess I thought the lessons taught by that book applied to everything life, but it clearly meant just bears. Now I am surviving the waterways better than a BP oil rig.
  • I give this book five stars because it is by far the best treatise to date regarding the avoidance of huge ships. BUT C’MON, PEOPLE! Did you learn nothing in the sixties? Avoiding huge ships won’t solve the problem. Separate but equal waterways only drives us further apart. It is the lack of understanding between the huge and non-huge vessel communities that lead to well-intentioned but misguided tomes such as this. We must begin a dialogue with our huge brethren. Remember–we are all floating on the same ocean. I have a dream… that one day ALL vessels will be judged not by their tonnage, but by the content of their cargo. Next time a huge vessel approaches, just ask yourself “WWPD?” (What would Popeye do?)
  • As the father of two teenagers, I found this book invaluable. I’m sure other parents here can empathize when I say I shudder at the thought of the increasing influence and presence of huge ships in the lives my children. I certainly remember the strain I caused so long ago for my own parents when I began experimenting with huge ships. The long inter-continental voyages that kept my mom and dad up all night with worry. Don’t even get me started on the international protocols when transporting perishable cargo. To think, I was even younger than my kids are now! huge ships are everywhere and it doesn’t help that the tv and movies make huge ships seem glamorous and cool. This book helped me really approach the subject of huge ships with my kids in an honest, open and non judgmental way. Because of the insights this book provided, I can sleep a little better and cope with the reality that I can’t always be there to protect my kids from huge ships, especially as they become adults. I’m confident that my teens, when confronted by a huge ship, are much better prepared to make wiser decisions than I did. At the very least my children certainly know that they can always come to me if they have any concerns, questions or just need my support when it comes to the topic of huge ships.

Are you unsure about your title? I would love to be your partner in choosing a title that makes a promise your book will keep. If you are ready to begin, pop me an email right now with “READY” in the subject line at flora@florabrown.com . Be sure to include your phone number and I’ll call you within 24 hours.

I’m going over to check for your email right now.

Book Writing: An Inside Look at a Chapter

Just as each chapter in your book has a job to do, so does it have a structure, a framework upon which the content hangs.

If your chapter heading is a question to be answered, the content of your chapter must provide the answer, preferably in a structure that is easy to follow. A consistent structure guides the reader through your book easily, enabling her to grasp your concepts and messages.

Throughout my book, Color Your LIfe Happy: Create the Success, Abundance and Inner Joy You Deserve, I decided on the following structure and order of chapter content:

1. Relevant quote
2. Attention-getter pulling the reader in the story
3. Reassure reader that he’s not alone
4. Example or story with action, dialogue or to show relationships
5. Advice or tip to bring about the change suggested in chapter title
6. Relevant comic relief to lighten mood
7. Summary of chapter
8. Activites to get reader to reflect and/or apply what was suggested in chapter

Here are excerpts from Chapter Two, Preparing Your Mind for Happiness, to demonstrate how the structure unfolds. Remember, in your mind change the chapter title into a question, How do you prepare your mind for happiness? The components of the chapter helps answer the question.

1. Relevant Quote

What you think of yourself is much more important than what others think of you.~Lucius Annaeus Seneca

2. Attention-getter pulling the reader in the story

If you’ve spent your entire life being moody, cranky, negative, judgmental, and just plain miserable, then you can’t expect to jump into happiness overnight. That would be a tremendous shock to your system—worse than being unprepared and diving into a pool of ice water. . .

3. Reassure reader that he’s not alone

For you, it’s probably scary to think about being happy—or to think it’s even attainable for you. After all, you’re comfortable and familiar with being unhappy. But if you’re going to become happy, then you’re going to have to step out of your comfort zone. Brrr!. . .

4. Example or story with action, dialogue, or to show relationships

Being happy is not for the faint-hearted. It takes courage and energy to move from one way of thinking to another or from one set of habits to another. And it seems that happiness can even worry other people.

For example, a member of my church stopped me one day and asked, “Are you always happy?”

“What do you mean?” I responded, feeling almost guilty for a moment.

“You’re always smiling,” he replied. . .

5. Advice, tips to bring about the change suggested in chapter title

You don’t need to make huge changes in your life in order to be happy, although positive changes will likely come about as a result. If you want to change your eating habits, for example, you could choose to eat half as much per meal, or just cut out one item. This small effort will get you started on your way without requiring a major overhaul.

Don’t be intimidated by others you think are happier than you. They may not be. Their happiness may be maintained with a lot of effort, just as a bodybuilder must maintain a certain lifestyle in order to keep up that chiseled appearance. . .

6. Relevant comic relief to lighten mood

Happiness Flashback
 I took lots of photos of my children to chronicle major and minor events in their lives. They were so used to posing for pictures in the midst of activities that no matter how upset or tearful they were, when I pulled out a camera, they froze in place and broke into smiles, and then returned to whatever dispute or turmoil they had been involved in at the time.

7. Summary of chapter

Happiness is not something you put on in the morning and remove at
night. It is a way of living. It’s the way you see the world and choose the
experiences you want to have.

Four habits can help you create happiness in your life.

Conceive and visualize what you want, but be careful what you ask for.

Remember, words have power.

Set your goals without worrying about how you’ll get there.

Chop your big goal into small manageable ones. Think of small things
you can do today or tomorrow that will begin to move you toward your
goal.

Instead of stepping out of your comfort zone, widen it to include new
habits and experiences. One of the easiest ways to do this is to associate
with others who are engaged in the activity that interests you.

You must be willing to do whatever it takes to get where you want to
go. If you aren’t, then how do you expect to get there?

Don’t let bad news stunt your growth. It’s all around us, but it can be
a dream killer if you dwell on it. Like all living things, the economy goes
in cycles. It will be down, followed by up, followed by down, and so on.

Failure, though we try to avoid it, is part of life as well.

Though positive affirmations work for me, they don’t work for others.

Thinking brings about results to match it. What’s important is to find a
technique that brings about the results you desire.

While you may have trouble accepting the concept of positive thinking,
consider other factors researchers agree also lead to happiness: adequate
sleep, a balanced diet and exercise.

Finally, to make happiness a part of your daily life, you need to bring
your inner critic in line and enable your intuition to get louder. Be good
to yourself. Put your best interests first. Learn to say “no” to things that
pull you from your goals or deplete your positive energy.

8. Activities to get reader to reflect and/or apply what was suggested in chapter

a. Make a list of all the activities, events and experiences you’ve really enjoyed. It doesn’t matter what they are. Only you know which things have made you feel good and given you joy—not only while you were doing them—but even just remembering them. They may even be things you haven’t done since childhood or your youth. . .

b. List one goal you’ve delayed or been afraid to pursue. It doesn’t matter
whether it’s a personal, spiritual or career goal. Only share your goal with people who are supportive. . .

c. Do you know people who have accomplished the same goal as yours?
You don’t have to know them personally, just know where they are
located. If so, list their names here. . .

Sometimes your chapter structure will be clear to you at the very beginning. Other times it evolves as you create and/or edit your manuscript.

In either case, by having a structure throughout your book, your readers will be able to follow you easily from chapter to chapter until the end just as you planned.   When this happens, they not only get the answer to the questions posed by the book title and chapters, but also now anticipate your next book.

Do you have a book idea under construction? I would love to be your partner in putting its structure in place.. If you are ready to begin, pop me an email right now with “READY” in the subject line at flora@florabrown.com . Be sure to include your phone number and I’ll call you within 24 hours.

I’m going over to check for your email right now.

Book Writing: The Job of a Chapter

The chapters in your book are not just ways to break your book into parts.

Each chapter has a job, and that job is to answer a question posed by your book title. The answer may be short or very long with its own parts, but still it answers a question.

Let’s take a look at a chapter from my book, Color Your LIfe Happy: Create the Success, Abundance and Inner Joy You Deserve, for example.

The title of my book, when turned into a question is How do you color your life happy?

Each chapter is an answer, but poses its own question as well.

Let’s look at Chapter 2, Preparing Your Mind for Happiness, for example.

Turning that chapter title into a question, it becomes How do you prepare your mind for happiness?

Here are the sections within that chapter that answer the chapter’s question:

  • What’s wrong with rose-colored glasses? (when the section heading is a question, you can bet the content usually will answer in the affirmative)
  • You are not alone
  • Happiness doesn’t require complex skills
  • Your happiness is up to you
  • Happiness is a choice
  • Thinking about change is the first step
  • Maybe you should disregard sensible advice
  • There are two sides to getting what you want
  • Are you stuck in preparation mode?
  • Spiritual beliefs are for daily use, not just weekly worship services

But no matter how much one chapter answers the book’s questions, it leaves some things unanswered. The biggest job of the chapter is to make the reader wanting more and seeking it in upcoming chapters.

Are you ready to let your chapters do their job? I would love to be your partner in crafting your chapters. If you are ready to begin, pop me an email right now with “READY” in the subject line at flora@florabrown.com . Then tell me about your book plans. If you include your phone number I’ll call you within 24 hours. If you get started right away, sign up for my e-course, Rockin’ My Book at http://addauthortoyourresume.com/ecourse

I’m going over to check for your email right now.